A former cruise ship worker who had sexually assaulted and tried to kill a female passenger told a judge October 18, Tuesday that he was having a tough time dealing with the violence he sees in prison every day.
Ketut Pujayasa, 31, has already served 2 ½ years in federal prison for what prosecutors said was an extraordinarily cruel and violent attack on the woman during MS Nieuw Amsterdam cruise that left Port Everglades (Fort Lauderdale) in February 2014.
Pujayasa admitted he used his master key to sneak into the woman's room, hid on her balcony until she fell asleep and then unleashed an astonishingly brutal assault on her.
The Valentine's Day attack went on for 30 to 60 minutes and included choking her with electrical cords, hitting her with objects from the cabin and trying to throw her into the ocean from the balcony of the moving ship, according to court records.
Pujayasa has spent the last year or more at a federal prison in Texas that is nicknamed "Bloody Beaumont" because of its violent reputation, Assistant Federal Public Defender Chantel Doakes told the judge.
Despite that, Pujayasa has taken advantage of every educational and self-improvement opportunity in prison, she said, including taking anger-management courses.
Pujayasa told the judge he knew he deserved to be punished but begged for mercy and said he dreaded returning to the Texas prison:
"Every day, I have to witness people fighting and I have to protect and take care of myself in the troubles that come to me."
Pujayasa was previously sentenced to 30 years and five months for aggravated sexual assault and attempted murder but he was back in federal court in Miami on Tuesday to be re-sentenced.
An appeals court ruled earlier this year that the judge did not adequately explain his reasons for imposing a more severe punishment than the 14 to 17 1/2 years recommended by sentencing guidelines. Those guidelines are intended to make sure people get similar punishments for similar crimes.
U.S. District Judge Jose Martinez imposed the same punishment — 30 years and five months — on Tuesday but explained his reasons in greater detail.
He said the extra punishment was appropriate because Pujayasa's actions were so extreme and the effect on the victim was so severe, leaving her with post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression and physical and cognitive difficulties caused by her injuries.
Pujayasa will be deported when he is released and would be barred from returning to the U.S.
Pujayasa told investigators he wanted to punish the woman because he believed she had insulted his mother when he tried to deliver breakfast to her room on the Holland America Line cruise.
He claimed the woman said "son of a bitch" after he knocked three times. The Indonesian native, who worked on cruises for several years, said he thought she was insulting his mother.
He fumed about it for hours and looked for her on the deck of the weeklong nudist cruise, planning to punch her in the face. When he spotted her, he said there were too many other passengers on deck so he changed his plan.
Seventeen hours after the perceived slight, he used his master key to let himself into her room, hid on her balcony and fell asleep waiting for her to return. The woman later wrote that she woke up to a "human shadow trying to kill me with his bare hands."
Prosecutors said the woman only survived the lengthy, brutal attack — which they described as "torture" — because she had unusual physical strength from her training as an aerial acrobat and gym teacher. The woman, who lives in the U.S., filed a civil suit and reached a confidential settlement with the cruise line last year.
Pujayasa, who had never been in any kind of trouble before, apologized again in court, though the victim did not attend his second sentencing.
"I am deeply sorry for all my actions," Pujayasa told the judge, speaking through a court interpreter.
He said he had never hurt anybody before but was incensed by what he considered an insult to his mother, describing her as the person he loves most in the world.
"[Pujayasa] still does not understand that words do not justify these kinds of actions," the judge said.
If the victim said what Pujayasa claimed she said, the judge explained to Pujayasa that it was not intended to besmirch his mother:
"She stated a fairly common expression when you stub your toe or get awakened in the night."
For reports on other MS Nieuw Amsterdam ship accidents see at CruiseMinus.com